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Hiring in New Jersey? Have Your Summary of Rights Ready

Last year we talked about New Jersey’s state-specific background check disclosure requirements. But this isn’t the only thing employers should know about New Jersey-specific requirements. Like Washington state, New Jersey also has a state-specific Summary of Rights.

According to New Jersey law, if using a background report for employment purposes, before taking adverse action based in whole or in part on information in the report, employers must provide a copy of the report to the candidate. In addition, the employer must also provide the candidate with “a description in writing of the rights of the consumer under [the New Jersey Fair Credit Reporting Act (NJFCRA.)] and the federal ‘Fair Credit Reporting Act’…”

Consumer Rights & Protections in New Jersey

What are the rights of consumers under the NJFCRA?  The NJFCRA is similar to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act and contains a number of consumer rights, including, but not limited to:

  • Required consent – The candidate must provide written authorization to obtain a background report about them for employment purposes.
  • Required disclosure – Before procuring a background report for employment purposes, employers must provide a clear and conspicuous written disclosure to the candidate. The document must solely disclose that the employer may obtain a background report for employment purposes.
  • Specific disclosuresSpecific disclosures are required if obtaining information in the background report through personal interviews with neighbors, friends, associates, or acquaintances of the candidate or others with knowledge of the candidate. (An “investigative consumer report,” as defined by New Jersey law).
  • Pre-adverse action requirements – If using the background check for employment purposes, employers must provide specific notices to candidates before taking adverse action.
  • Right to information – Candidates have the right to request and receive all information in their file from a consumer reporting agency.
  • Dispute process – Candidates have the right to dispute information contained in their file directly with a consumer reporting agency.
  • Information removal – Consumer reporting agencies are required to delete or modify inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information.
  • Remedies – Candidates have the right to seek damages from violators of the NJFCRA.

Employers should work with their legal counsel to determine if their New Jersey Summary of Rights complies with the New Jersey Fair Credit Reporting Act. Verified Credentials’ clients can access sample documents in the Resource Library, including a sample New Jersey Summary of Rights,  to help as they create their candidate-facing documents.

Complaint Filed Against Walmart for Hiring Policies

The United States’ largest private employer faces a proposed nationwide class action lawsuit based on its screening policy. A complaint filed on July 16, 2021 alleges that Walmart “denies employment to many qualified applicants because of unrelated and/or stale criminal history” It also alleges the company “fails to account for evidence of rehabilitation or mitigating circumstances” related to criminal records.

One Experience Highlights the Experience of Many

The complaint against Walmart outlines the experience of named plaintiff Jacqueline Ramos. It alleges that Ramos is “a Black and Latinx woman who had a previous criminal conviction at the time she applied for employment at Walmart that was unrelated to the employment” she applied for.  The complaint claims that Ramos was qualified to work for Walmart, despite her conviction history, having completed a six-month internship with a Walmart subsidiary doing the same work she would have performed for Walmart.

Ramos states that she received an offer of employment from Walmart, but that “her job offer was… rescinded by Walmart because of her criminal history.”  According to the complaint, Ramos provided “strong evidence of her rehabilitation and mitigating circumstances”, but Walmart “failed to account for, or even consider” the evidence that was submitted.

Complaint Highlights Racial Disparities in the Justice System

The complaint makes the allegation that “[a]s a result of its overbroad policy, Walmart denied employment to Plaintiff and disproportionately denies employment to countless other Black and Latinx applicants.”

It states that “Walmart’s criminal history policy must be understood in the context of the reality that individuals who are Black or Latinx are significantly over arrested, convicted, and incarcerated in the United States.”

The filing alleges “Walmart’s criminal history screening policy and practice of denying opportunities to individuals with criminal convictions… constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, and/or national origin”, in violation of:

1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.

2. New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq.

It further alleges, in clarification of its discrimination claims, that Walmart’s criminal history policy has a disparate impact on Black and Latinx applicants and is not job-related or consistent with business necessity.

The class action complaint proposes two separate classes of individuals.  The first is a “Nationwide Class” of all “Black and Latinx individuals nationwide who, during the relevant statute of limitations period, were denied employment at Walmart based in whole or in part on their criminal history.”  The second is a “New Jersey Class” of all “Black and Latinx individuals in New Jersey who, during the relevant statute of limitations period, were denied employment at Walmart based in whole or in part on their criminal history.”

The allegations against Walmart remain allegations at this stage in litigation – no wrongdoing has been established at this point.  Verified Credentials will attempt to provide you with updates to this case as they become available.

Like the recent cases against Macy’s and New York Life Insurance Company, the claims against Walmart serve as a reminder that any employer that uses background checks for employment purposes should take care to ensure that their background screening policies comply with anti-discrimination laws.

If you have further questions about background screening compliance, you may wish to speak with trusted legal counsel.

Disclosures Go Down the New Jersey Shore

Does your team live or work up and down the Jersey Shore? Then there are some state-specific disclosure requirements to keep in mind. That’s right, New Jersey law includes specific background report disclosure requirements. We have discussed other state-specific disclosure requirements for Minnesota, Montana, New York, and more. This month, we’re going to dive into the state-specific disclosure requirements in the Garden State.

Permission to Talk to References

Dominated by suburbs, highways, and malls, New Jersey boasts a big workforce of New York City and Philadelphia commuters. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to use Verified Credentials to verify information with references or employers of Jerseyites.

You’ll need to provide your candidates who live or work in New Jersey with a specific disclosure if you obtain an “investigative consumer report” on them, as defined by New Jersey law.

That’s when your background report has information obtained through personal interviews with neighbors, friends, associates, or acquaintances of the candidate or others with knowledge of the candidate.

The Platform for New Jersey Investigative Consumer Report Disclosures

Like beams and planks of a seaside boardwalk, state-specific disclosures must also build a platform on set requirements. What are the pieces that support New Jersey’s investigative consumer report disclosure? This background report disclosure must:

  • Be provided to the candidate before a background report is obtained.
  • Be in writing.
  • Clearly and accurately disclose that an investigative consumer report commonly includes information regarding the candidate’s character, general reputation, personal characteristics, and mode of living obtained through personal interviews of the candidate’s neighbors, friends, associates, acquaintances or others with knowledge of the candidate.
  • Include the precise nature and scope of the investigation requested and advise the candidate of the right to have a copy of the report upon request.

Verified Credentials offers a sample New Jersey investigative consumer report disclosure to help employers like you. You can see this by logging into your account and going to the Resource Library to get started.

Still not sure what state disclosures you need? Your legal counsel can help answer your questions about state-specific laws.

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There are several types of codes:

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This code is given to a user by an organization or person who has asked the user to complete a series of requirements for a given qualification process. Each qualification process is assigned a unique code. Users enter the code and are guided through an easy, step-by-step process to help them complete the mandatory requirements established by the requestor.

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This code is typically given to a user by another person in effort to share information contained in their personal QualifiedFirst portfolio, such as their background report, professional qualifications, and more. The users enter the code and can view the shared information securely within their QualifiedFirst account. If the user does not have a QualifiedFirst account, they can open a FREE account in a matter of minutes.

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This code is sent out to QualifiedFirst® users and can be used for discounts on personal background check orders. Note – these codes cannot be used when responding to a requirement set code.

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